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We all have a right to retain EU citizenship


Belfast Telegraph letters to the Editor

Belfast Telegraph letters to the Editor

Belfast Telegraph letters to the Editor

The European Parliament resolution on the state of play of negotiations with the United Kingdom is flawed.

For example, we have the statement F: "Whereas the people of Northern Ireland who have exercised, or may exercise, their entitlement to Irish citizenship will enjoy EU citizenship and no obstacles or impediments should be put in place preventing them from fully exercising their rights in accordance with the Treaties".

The population of Northern Ireland are all currently citizens of the European Union and they should not have to first apply for Irish citizenship to receive the EU citizenship rights to which they are entitled.

There are many who would not wish to take up Irish citizenship for a variety of reasons, but who would wish to exercise their rights to remain EU citizens.

There appears to be an underlying sectarian assumption that all those in Northern Ireland who do not take up Irish citizenship are not entitled to be EU citizens, which relegates them to second-class status.

Neither the European Union nor the European Parliament have consulted directly with citizens in Northern Ireland to ascertain whether they wish to retain their EU citizenship, whether they want an EU passport as tangible evidence of that citizenship, and arguably this would be a first step to take before the European Union's Brexit negotiation team can progress talks on the future of Northern Ireland, surely?

The European Commission, Parliament and Brexit negotiators must first collect evidence to inform their decisions and so write to each person in Northern Ireland to ask what they want. After all - we have rights as EU citizens.

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I would argue that the EU must take steps to issue EU passports to all those in Northern Ireland who want to remain EU citizens and they require the exact same protection proffered by the European Court of Justice as provided for other "3.2 million citizens of the remaining 27 member states (EU-27) resident in the United Kingdom... on the basis of rights they enjoy under European Union law and on the understanding that they would continue to enjoy those rights throughout their lives".

At the moment, it seems as if the European Parliament, European Commission and the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, are talking over our heads without actually asking us what we want - and this despite the overwhelming majority in Northern Ireland voting to remain in the EU during the 2016 Brexit referendum.

bernard j mulholland


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